As the largest school district in the state, Portland has something to offer that no other district can: choice.

Just by virtue of the number of students, Portland parents have long had options when the neighborhood elementary or middle school is not the right fit for their child. And every student in the district is allowed to pick a high school from a menu of three distinct programs.

As the state looks for new ways to improve education, some of the most innovative options are already in Portland, from pre-school through high school levels. Innovative programs like the Many Rivers elementary school, King Middle School and Casco Bay High School have received national attention and have influenced how students are taught throughout the district.

Size has been an asset to Portland, and the city has taken advantage of it, which is not to say that it has taken full advantage. Portland’s school choice is still not well enough advertised. As it currently stands, requests for out-of-district placements before high school — for which there are no districts — are handled on a case-by-case basis and generally limited to the more clued-in parents who have the ability to transport their students every day.

The school board is taking some time this summer to revise the school choice policy, and the central office has begun denying the requests when adding students to one school would result in moving teachers and other resources from another.

Both moves make sense. The goal of the district should be making every school excellent, and student movement should not be allowed to create inequities between schools.

But as a matter of policy, the Board of Education should be encouraging school choice and making the most of the unique asset Portland has. More specialized programs could promote student movement and lead to more economic balance of students within schools. Portland is big enough to have schools within schools, which, properly promoted could get families more involved in their student’s education than they are when the neighborhood school is the only option. If nothing else, it would start a conversation about what makes a school “good,” which could be beneficial.

Making the maximum use of a well-publicized school choice program would also promote and market Portland as a place for families to move if they want something that is not otherwise available. School board members should be looking at a policy that would make options more distinct and make families more aware of all that is available.